May 15, 2013

The Joint Trustees of the Princeton YMCA-YWCA announced today that the Terra Momo Group will be joining them as a partner to create an exciting and unique learning kitchen in the facility’s former café space. Together, the YMCA-YWCA and the Terra Momo Group will establish a setting in which members will be able to learn about healthy cooking and nutrition in a variety of creative ways, and access healthy foods. The kitchen will feature nutritious items that are prepared on site with minimal processing and the menu will include gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and heart-healthy options.

“There is great need and growing interest for programs that help people understand how to eat better and more nutritiously,” Raoul Momo of Terra Momo said, “the YMCA and YWCA share a mutual goal of enhancing people’s well being and healthy living. We’re very pleased to be adding another dimension to that experience through culinary education. We hear it all the time — people are eager to learn how to eat better and make choices that improve their health, as individuals and as families, without compromising taste. We see this as a very exciting opportunity and look forward to creating something very special for Princeton. ”

In addition to featuring programs with the YMCA and YWCA, the kitchen will offer activities with other community partners, such as the Suppers Program and other community initiatives that promote healthy eating and living. Plans also include showcasing local produce in season and possibly a local Community Supported Agriculture pick up. The kitchen is planned to open in September 2013.

The public will get a chance to examine developer AvalonBay’s revised plans for the former Princeton Hospital site at an open house on Wednesday, May 22 in the cafeteria of Community Park School on Witherspoon Street. The presentation will be based on “fully engineered plans which are likely to be submitted to Princeton for site plan review prior to the event,” according to Jon Vogel, AvalonBay vice president. “Computer model and architectural rendering are still in process but will be available at the Planning Board hearing,” Mr. Vogel wrote in an email.

Members of the public, especially those who live in the neighborhood of the 285-unit rental complex that AvalonBay has proposed to build, have been particularly vocal in their insistence that the company provide plans that are still in the conceptual stage. The upcoming open house was a topic of public comment at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night. Janice Hall of Park Place and Daniel Harris, a member of Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN), were among those who said the public needs to see concept plans and three-dimensional models, allowing for community input and feedback, rather than plans that are already fully engineered.

AvalonBay’s initial plan for the hospital site was rejected last February by the Planning Board based on design standards. The company filed suit against the Board and the town of Princeton but later entered into a consent agreement with the town to try and find a compromise outside of court. PCSN has expressed concerns that Planning Board hearings on the revised proposal are being rushed.

The May 22 open house will include presentations by AvalonBay at 7, 8, and 9 p.m. about the status of the development, next steps, and timing while summarizing the changes made to the prior plans.КEach presentation will be followed by an informal question and answer session with company representatives.

In a press release announcing the open house, AvalonBay wrote, “We are very pleased to be submitting these new plans for Avalon Princeton. In the last several weeks, we have received constructive feedback on our revised design from municipal officials, professionals, and citizen representatives from both SPRAB and the PEC,” the release reads. “We have listened carefully to the issues that have been raised, and made changes from our initial design to accommodate community concerns within the constraints of the economic and construction realities surrounding the project. We are very excited about the prospect of sharing with the community our new plans, and we are optimistic that they will be well received.

In an emotional ceremony, Princeton police officers and members of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) were officially recognized Monday evening for saving the life of Barbara Ritz, who went into cardiac arrest while dining at Mediterra restaurant on April 5. After Mayor Liz Lempert read a proclamation at the meeting of Princeton Council in Witherspoon Hall, Ms. Ritz hugged each of the eight first responders who arrived at the restaurant and sprang into action after she suddenly became unresponsive during a dinner with her family.

Honored were Sergeant Joann Malta, Corporal Marla Montague, Patrol Officers Stephen Lattin and Michael Schubert of the Princeton Police, and PFARS members Jay Padulchick, Henry Pannell, David Feiner, and Roy Xiao. Called to the restaurant when Ms. Ritz lost consciousness, they arrived to find her lying on the floor, unresponsive and without a pulse. Applying CPR and electric shocks, they restored her pulse and breathing. She is now recovering.

“It was like the presence of God walked into the restaurant,” recalled Ms. Ritz’s sister-in-law Donna Ritz, addressing the officers and PFARS members at the presentation. “You were so under control. You brought grace under fire with you Й. It is because of you that we have had more celebrations with my sister-in-law: Easter, Mother’s Day, and the rest of the celebrations of the year. We will always be grateful.”

There were several other topics on the Council’s agenda at the meeting, including work sessions on resolutions regarding a Conflict of Interest policy for the town and the Transco Pipeline project, which the Williams Company wants to install on the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. An update on the municipal budget and a presentation on the need for a $1.7 storage facility for public works vehicles were also included.

The Council adopted the Conflict of Interest policy and then referred it back to the personnel committee to review the best mechanism for providing the opinion on conflict. There was discussion over whether the municipal attorney, an outside counsel, or a local ethics board should be utilized. The personnel committee will come back to Council at a future date with a recommendation.

The Council also passed a resolution that the Princeton Environmental Commission adopted on May 10 regarding the Transco pipeline project. The resolution asks that a full Environmental Impact Statement be carried out and that health and safety issues are fully considered. The Williams company plans to file its proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September. The issue will come up again on the agenda toward the end of summer when Council meets to consider whether the town should become an official intervenor or an interested party.

During the budget update by Scott Sillars of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, Council members were told that a further lowering of the tax rate is possible if the State of New Jersey reimburses the town for 20 percent of the costs of the transition to consolidation. The additional municipal tax rate decrease would be one percent, due to a surplus in funds.

Some members of Council cautioned that the State’s promise of reimbursement is still in question. “We’re counting on the funds from the state,” said Patrick Simon. “If they don’t provide them, we’re taking more from surplus than planning.”

The town has been waiting to hear a final verdict from the State on whether it will fulfill its promise, made earlier this year, to pay the portion of consolidation costs. Adoption of the municipal budget has been scheduled for May 28. But if the town decides to go forward with the additional tax reduction, then the budget will need to be reintroduced at that meeting and adoption would be pushed into June.

State funding for the Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) came under scrutiny when lawmakers meeting in Trenton for a budget hearing last week, questioned Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks about the religious nature of the institution and the source of the funding.

Last month, Gov. Chris Christie announced $1.3 billion in funding for 176 construction projects at 46 public and private colleges and universities, statewide.

The funding, which is described as the “first concerted contribution to New Jersey’s higher education infrastructure in decades,” will come from $750 million from the Building Our Future Bond Act that New Jersey voters approved in November as well as from four other higher education funding programs: the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund, the Higher Education facilities Trust Fund, the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund, and the Higher Education Equipment Leasing Fund.

The New Jersey State Legislature has the power to accept or reject all or any items.

If approved, institutions of higher education in Mercer County will receive more than $95 million for construction projects at the County’s six colleges and universities.

Awards go to public research universities: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (all campuses), $357 million; UMDNJ, $67 million; as well as to public institutions: The College of New Jersey, $57.4 million; Thomas Edison State College, $16.6 million; Mercer County Community College, $9.7 million; and to private institutions: Princeton University, $6.4 million; Rider University, $4.5 million; and Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), $645,323.

Of the $6.4 million that Princeton University will receive, about $3.2 million will help fund construction of the new Andlinger Center, which will support research on sustainable energy development and the environment. The other $3.2 million will fund the renovation of the former Frick Laboratory at 20 Washington Road. The 200,000-square-foot, renovated Frick will house the University’s economics department and also provide space for some of the University’s international initiatives.

Princeton University was not eligible for funding from the higher education bond question in November because of its $17 billion endowment. The funding awarded to the University will come from the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund.

Rider University’s $4.6 million will go to a new academic structure on the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton that will feature a recital and rehearsal room, lobby, ticket booth, and multimedia classrooms.

The $645,323 award to PTS would be used for technology upgrades at the Luce Library.

According to Secretary Hendricks, the State received more than 250 applications for $2.1 billion in projects from 46 institutions. She described the quality of the applications as “impressive.”

Institutions were required to detail how projects served students and aligned with New Jersey’s workforce needs. The selected projects were those targeting academic programs, especially science, technology, engineering, and math, according to the governor’s office.

At last week’s budget hearing, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, was among those who flagged the PTS award; questioning the legality of its source in the state’s Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund, which, it appears, can only go to state-funded institutions.

Besides the funding to PTS, an award of $10.6 million to the Beth Medrash Govoha, an all-male Orthodox Jewish rabbinical school in Lakewood, was queried; both raising the issue of separation of Church and State.

According to a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, the grant to the seminary is “under review.”

Contacted for a response, on Monday, May 13, The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes said that he was unable to comment. Dr. Barnes has led the seminary since January as its seventh president. A seminary alumnus, he graduated in 1981 with a Master of Divinity in 1981.

In addition to training men and women for the Christian clergy, the Princeton Theological Seminary has non-Christian students and joint degree programs with Princeton University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its students are able to take courses at both of these institutions, one public and one private. Its library is open access and is one of only two internet archives with digitized material.

More public discussion is expected.


Saturday’s sudden downpour did nothing to dampen the performance launching the Wayside Shrines issue of Princeton Magazine. The concert simply moved from Hinds Plaza to the library’s living room where the word on the street says that a good time was had by all. The Shrines (from left) are singer Ila Couch, drummer Ray Kubian, keyboardist Noriko Manabe, bassist Nigel Smith, lyricist Paul Muldoon, singer, guitarist, and musical life force Chris Harford, and violinist Tim Chaston, who is holding his daughter, Olive. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


May 8, 2013
STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

Students at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) and the Hun School of Princeton were among the army of kids lending their efforts in support of the Princeton community and beyond with an all day “Service Saturday” at JWMS and Hun’s Earth Day Sandy Clean Up.

At JWMS on April 20, over 75 students and over 20 staff members volunteered their time for community projects. Technology teacher Kelly Riely, who also coaches track and field and advises the school’s “Do Something Club,” helped coordinate the activities. “This is my second year creating and organizing this event, our chance to give back to a community that gives so much to us,” she said.

Students “gave back” at over 11 sites between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Some helped out at SAVE, while others were at Princeton Care, Princeton Nursery, YWCA/YMCA, the Arts Council of Princeton, and the Stony Millstone Watershed. Several worked with Sustainable Princeton’s Diane Landis on a PSA film about the organization.

At the school, others had the opportunity to build bird cages that were placed in the outdoor garden at Community Park School or work on an art mural for Princeton Hospital. Teacher Paul Skalka worked with students on the bird houses and visual arts teacher Claudia Luongo and student teachers guided the art mural. The materials used for the bird houses, said Mr. Skalka were funded by a grant from the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF).

Over 90 bagged sandwich lunches were made for The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) with donations from Cindy Hill and her team at Sodexo. Hundreds of books were collected and organized for Books Have Wings. The school grounds benefited from the work of student landscapers.

“All in all it was a wonderful day for students and staff who volunteered to help others,” said Ms. Riely. “Students cleaned, walked animals, hung posters, sang, and did arts and crafts with our senior residents, and much more. They truly showed the community that they care. We look forward to our third annual Service Saturday next year.”

The Hun School marked Earth Day, April 22, with some 525 Upper School students offering their support to four communities in New Jersey and New York that had suffered from the impact of Superstorm Sandy. Like Senior Greg Flood (pictured on page 5), they collected items of debris and removed a portion of a pier that had been destroyed.

Before setting out for their destinations, students prepared for the service-learning day with classroom instruction and special programming about Sandy’s impact on the environment and on the economies of the shore towns.

Students and faculty worked alongside community officials at New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park; Barnegat Lighthouse in Barnegat Light Borough; and Beach Haven West; as well as New York’s Great Kills National Park in Staten Island.

Dress for Success, the non-profit organization promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women, announces The Power Walk for Dress for Success, in 35 plus cities in May, including Pennington, Saturday, May 11.

The 5K walk and fun run promote active, healthy, lifestyle choices for women and families and serves as a testament to the link between personal health and professional success.

The event includes fitness activities, a health fair, music and entertainment by New Jersey 101.5, a kids’ corner with arts, crafts, and games, and a Mother’s day flower sale. The first 100 participants will receive a T-shirt. Healthy snacks and water will be provided but people are encouraged to eat a nutritious breakfast before they arrive.

Participants are encouraged to create a team of friends, walk with family, or participate as a virtual walker online. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Speakers include Dr. Jeff Levine, Director of Women’s Health Programs in the Department of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and George Ruthauser, announcer for the New Jersey Jackals a professional, independent baseball club that plays at Yogi Berra Stadium on the Montclair State University campus.

All funds raised will support the image enhancement and career development programs and services of Dress for Success Mercer County. Major sponsors include Stark & Stark, NRG Energy, Riegel Printing, and Beds & Borders.

The event, which is open to the public, takes place at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Hopewell Campus, 410 Scotch Road, Pennington, Saturday, May 11, with registration from 8 to 10:25 a.m. Walk begins at 9 a.m. followed by yoga stretch and opening ceremony from 9:30 to 10 a.m. A Fun Run begins at 10:30 a.m.

To register yourself or a team, visit: www.dfspower For more information visit:

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

Charlie Plaskon breaks records all the time. But for this legally blind, 69-year-old triathlete, finishing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile marathon that make up an Ironman competition, in 12 hours and 41 minutes — the record for a blind individual — isn’t about the numbers.

“I give my medals away,” Mr. Plaskon said Friday during a talk to students at The Bridge Academy in Lawrenceville. “It’s just acknowledgment for what I did that particular day,” he added, holding up one of his many medals. “I enjoy them, but I don’t relish them.”

What is most important, he told the students, who have dyslexia and other language-based disabilities, is not letting those disabilities get in the way of what they want to achieve. “I’m here to motivate you to make a difference,” he said. “You don’t even know what you’re capable of.”

Mr. Plaskon was on hand to talk to the students, who range in age from eight to 18, and to ride with them the following day in Bike for Bridge, a charity bike ride to benefit the 10-year-old school. He got acquainted with the school through its art teacher, Sarah Bernotas, whose father has been Mr. Plaskon’s friend since childhood. “Uncle Charlie” clearly has an affection for the Bridge Academy, which he has visited in the past.

“I hope I inspired them,” he said this week during a telephone interview. “They inspire me. Because I don’t have eyes, people lend me their eyes. I have a different kind of vision. For each person to do as much as they can with what they’ve got, that’s my message. If there’s a stumbling block, they fashion it into a stepping stone.”

It was actual stepping stones, in fact, around which Mr. Plaskon focused his talk last week. He asked the students to tell him how many stones there were between the Bridge Academy’s main building and the adjacent Adath Israel synagogue, where the talk was held. Though it is a short walk they make regularly, none of the Bridge students came close to the right number.

“You take your sight for granted,” said Mr. Plaskon, who has learned to make a mental note of steps he takes and ground he covers. “Do you know what a gift that is? You have eyes and you’re not using them as much as you possibly could.”

The students were rapt as Mr. Plaskon relayed his unusual story. Born in 1943 with a condition called Stargardt macular degeneration, which in children today can be helped by laser treatments, he struggled with his sight from birth. “My vision kept declining,” he said. “The world was getting increasingly darker.”

It was Mr. Plaskon’s first grade teacher who told his parents that something was wrong. They took him to an eye doctor. “I was in the next room after the examination, and I heard the doctor say to my father, ‘Never let your son leave the house. The world is much too dangerous for him.’ I was barely six-years-old! I had a lot of dreams,” he recalled. “I wanted to be a fireman, a cowboy. How was I going to achieve them?” Mr. Plaskon’s father came out of the doctor’s office, took his son by the shoulders and said, “Don’t listen to what the doctor says.” It was a turning point for him.

With the help of encouraging teachers as well as his supportive family, Mr. Plaskon earned a bachelor’s degree from Newark State College, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a second master’s from Hofstra University on Long Island. After 32 years, he retired from his job teaching industrial arts at a Long Island middle school, and retired to Florida. He has three children and four grandchildren.

Running was a challenge Mr. Plaskon tackled after retirement. Soon, he was taking part in half-marathons and full marathons. Those led to triathlons, adding swimming and biking to the challenge. Mr. Plaskon participates with the help of (much younger) partners who are tethered to him throughout the competitions. Since 2003, he has completed several half Ironman and full Ironman events including the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October 2007.

As part of his presentation at The Bridge Academy, Mr. Plaskon demonstrated how he changes his attire for each portion of the race. He put on his goggles, pulled on his swim cap, showed where he stows his “nutrition” for fuel during the day-long competitions. Removing his jacket, he unwittingly showed off his muscular frame.

Mr. Plaskon ran in the recent Boston Marathon, his sixth, aided by two guides. At his talk, he didn’t talk about the race, during which two bombs were set off, killing three spectators and wounding several others. But he recalled his experience this week.

“We were on schedule and were coming in well under the anticipated time,” he said. “Right around the 24-mile marker, the word came back that there was an explosion in a medical tent. We thought it was maybe an oxygen tank or something. A group of police urged us to leave, but we had just run 25.5 miles and we weren’t about to stop. We ran all the way down to Boylston Street and had a pinch left to go when one of my guides said there were helicopters, police cars, members of the bomb squad with weapons. We knew it was over.”

The three were running “… over fences, under barriers, a mass of humanity,” Mr. Plaskon said of their exit from the scene. “We forgot about shivering and being thirsty. Cramps set in because the police would stop us. Nobody knew what was going on. But we survived.”

The experience did not dampen Mr. Plaskon’s enthusiasm for competitions. Two weeks ago, he did a 112-mile bike ride with veterans from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. This week, he will do a fundraiser for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington D.C. “I do this all over the place,” he said. “That’s why I have to stay so fit.”

The Bike for Bridge race last Saturday was shorter, but no less rewarding than the other events on Mr. Plaskon’s agenda. “It’s the experiences at things like this that are tremendous,” he said. “The people I met Saturday morning were wonderful. Two or three gentlemen said, ‘My son was in the audience at your talk yesterday and I had to come and meet you.’ This is a collection of people who have challenges. I’ve been challenged every day of my life. If I can make it, so can they. There was great participation, bringing attention to a school that is very special because they’re saving kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks.”

Bridge School principal Sue Morris said more than 30 riders of all ages took part in the race. Having Mr. Plaskon on hand for two days “means a tremendous amount,” she said. “The kids were amazed at the things he’s been able to accomplish, and they were inspired that he doesn’t take no for an answer, that he just pushes through and finds a way to accomplish things,” she said. “He does not use his blindness as an excuse. We explain to our kids, you do not use your disability as an excuse. They need to be able to accommodate for it and push through.”

Mr. Plaskon is considering a return to teaching, and working on a book. “I hope to launch my message in as large a way possible,” he said. “I’m here, I’m 70, I’m old, and I’m blind, but if I can encourage people to do things they never thought were possible, what could be better than that?”

It is no exaggeration to say that renowned Philadelphia poet Elaine Terranova’s work has reached a wide audience. Besides being featured in some very high profile literary publications such as The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and the Prairie Schooner, Ms. Terranova’s poems have been posted on buses and in subways throughout her hometown.

Her poem “The River Bathers” was used in 2003 on illustrated posters by the city’s Public Poetry Project and “The Choice” was part of Philadelphia’s Poetry in Motion. Inspired by a similar program in the London Underground, Poetry in Motion, started with New York’s MTA system in 1992 and expanded to cities across the country. It arrived in Philadelphia in 1999. At its peak, the program brought the work of prominent poets to some 13 million daily commuters in 14 American cities.

“Poetry in Motion put short poems or parts of poems on placards on buses and subways and I was one of a dozen Pennsylvania poets, including Lee Upton, David Slavitt, and Steve Berg, to participate,” notes Ms. Terranova. “Although it only lasted in Philadephia for about six months, it was great to have public transportation carry poetry; I wish it would come back.”

On the second Monday of every month, U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative and the Delaware Valley Poets join with the Princeton Public Library in presenting “Poets at the Library,” a reading series that features one or two seasoned poets followed by an open reading with local poets stepping up to the podium to share their works. “It’s a pleasure to read poetry in Princeton,” says Ms. Terranova. “I like the charm and tradition of the place. It’s a town with a well-used and well-appreciated library and that tells you a lot about the population.”

This Monday, May 13, brings Ms. Terranova and longtime U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative member John McDermott to the comfortable space before the fireplace on the library’s second floor.

Born in Philadelphia 1939, Ms. Terranova received her Bachelor’s degree in 1961 from Temple University. Her literary career began in publishing as a manuscript editor for J. B. Lippincott Co. While there, she studied for her Master’s degree through Vermont’s Goddard College and then, in 1977, began teaching English and creative writing at Temple University. After a decade at Temple, she joined the Community College of Philadelphia as a reading and writing specialist. She teaches there currently.

Ms. Terranova’s interest in poetry prompted a chapbook, Toward Morning/Swimmers, in 1980. But it was with her first collection The Cult of the Right Hand that she came to prominence. The Cult of the Right Hand won the 1990 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and led its author to being asked to lead workshops at the 1991 Rutgers University Writers Conference and the 1992 Writers’ Center at the Chautauqua Institution.

In 1991, Ms. Terranova was interviewed on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and in 1992, she held the Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry at the 1992 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In the same year, her poem “The Stand-up Shtetel” took first prize in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Competition for poems on the Jewish experience.

Damages, her second collection, received warm reviews in 1996, the same year she was Margaret Banister writer-in-residence at Sweet Briar College. Besides Damages (Copper Canyon Press,1996), her books include The Dog’s Heart (Orchises, 2002), and Not To: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006), runner-up for the 2007 William Carlos Williams Award, Dames Rocket (Penstroke Press. 2012) and Dollhouse (Off the Grid Press, 2013); her many awards include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize.

Her poems are accessible and memorably disconcerting. Keenly aware of loss and with deep empathy for others, Ms. Terranova’s sensibility offers a fresh perspective. She is an intimate observer who is able to give voice to others such as the distracted office worker at his desk, capturing the thoughts behind a troubled expression. Her poems have an elegance borne of fleeting images deftly captured.

These lines from “Laterna Magica,” convey the poet’s compelling imagery: “And one day/a house burns down/as a woman cooks dinner./Miraculous — the family escapes./Expensive place. Acres/of feathery trees. You know the man,/have in your mind a glimpse of him/as you turned a corner/or at a blind landing of the stairs./You forget this fire/until a plane crash lands/and he and his child are listed/among the lost./Their names/could be tubas and kettledrums,/a music too important/for the radio. Pink/messages/pulse across your desk/but you are staring/at the irises in a vase/that rise like faces out of smoke.”

Joining Ms. Terranova at Monday’s reading, Mr. McDermott is a familiar voice in Princeton’s poetry community. A former poetry editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, he is an associate professor of English as a Second Language at Union County College. He’s read at the Dodge Poetry Festival and served many years as a Dodge Poet working with teachers and students. His poems have appeared in numerous journals.

Poets at the Library takes place Monday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Area on the library’s second floor. For more information, call (609) 924-9529 or visit

On the heels of the U.S. News & World Report rankings in which Princeton High School (PHS), listed last year in the top 10 in the state and 196th in the nation, failed to appear at all, The Washington Post has released a report that places PHS at number six in its list of New Jersey’s “most challenging high schools.”

According to The Post, its Challenging High School index identifies schools that excel in “persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests.”

This year, only nine percent of the nation’s approximately 22,000 high schools earned this rating and placement on the list.

The Post’s ranking stands in marked contrast to the U.S. News & World Report. What accounts for the puzzling disparity?

In last week’s Town Topics, Board of Education President Tim Quinn and Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Judith A. Wilson responded to both the U.S. News & World Report as well as the recent New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) School Performance Report. Ms. Wilson described the latter as, in some instances, “a mismatch for Princeton.” The DOE report was criticized for a metric that fails to take into account, among other items, graduating students who go on to secondary institutions outside of the United States, the full range of Advanced Placement (AP) exams taken at PHS, and for basing college and career readiness at the elementary schools level solely on attendance records, which can provide a skewed picture because of Princeton’s population.

“We have a diverse student body,” said Ms. Wilson, noting that students may miss academic days because of religious holidays or for extended travel with family abroad.

A district release on the DOE report quotes Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s April 9 letter to school administrators acknowledging that the School Performance Reports do not provide a complete picture. “Й we recognize that these metrics are not exhaustive of what it takes for students to be truly college and career ready,” he said.

“While the evaluation of student outcome data is crucial for school improvement, we know these data alone cannot capture the dozens of other essential elements of schools such as a positive school climate, participation in extracurricular programs, and the development of non-cognitive skills,” said Mr. Cerf.

An Interpretive Guide issued last month by the DOE states that many of the metrics are first-year data and that “data collected in a first-year collection are often of lower quality than that collected in subsequent years.”

According to a district press release, PHS ranked high on The Washington Post’s list because the Post “looked at a broad swath of students of all abilities, rather than solely the top performers.” The Post’s rating system factored out schools that focused only on what it calls “elite” students, noting that many “high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the [college-level] courses.”

In response to The Washington Post findings, Mr. Quinn explained some key differences between the type of data used and the method of analysis between The Post and U.S. News & World Report. “What most impressed me about The Washington Post’s list is that it reflected Princeton High School’s belief that all students are encouraged to avail themselves of rigorous, college-level courses,” he said. “It also recognizes the economic diversity of our student body, that PHS is educating students who come from households with a wide range of incomes. Recent research suggests that family income is the central factor in achievement gaps among groups of students.”

“Princeton High School’s ranking [in the Post] is all the more remarkable when you look at the five schools above PHS: two are private schools and three are magnet or charter schools with selective admissions policies. This makes PHS the most challenging open enrollment high school in the state,” said Mr. Quinn.

While the U.S. News & World Report treats public, charter, and magnet school equally, regardless of demographics and enrollment practices, The Washington Post’s analysis considers the difference between open-enrollment and highly selective enrollment. It does not include magnet or charter high schools that draw “such a high concentration of top students that its average SAT or ACT exceeds the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country.”

The Post relied upon a metric invented by the independent, non-profit College Board. The Equity and Excellence rate is “the percent of all graduating seniors, including those who never took an AP course, who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school.”

In several ways, The Post’s findings are consistent with both the U.S. News & World rankings and the new DOE School Performance Report.

All three score PHS very high in preparing its students for college and careers. U.S. News & World gives PHS a college readiness index of 64.5, significantly higher than the minimum score of 45.75 that publication requires for Gold Medal status. The DOE’s report rates PHS “above average” in college and career readiness.

Of rankings in general, Superintendent Wilson comments: “In our society we are too often seeking quick lists and easy comparisons. Schools and school districts are about growth and capacity building for students and employees alike. No two years and no two groups of students are the same, not to mention that tests are not the same from year to year. So, it is important that we look beyond the first glance at a list or ranking to understand what is being measured and how it is being measured.”

With respect to the disparities between reports, Ms. Wilson said: “There is something to learn from each report that pushes us to further analyze our internal information and our work. But there are also gaps and representations that do not provide accurate reflections of a school or a district and we have to be able to differentiate among the points.”

According to Ms. Wilson, as data increases, the public should expect an increasing number of reports and an increase in aspects of achievement measured. As far as the district is concerned, it’s mission remains “to hold a steady focused course so that we are not chasing goals that do not have as much merit or potential for true student achievement. Any ranking or list that is only based on standardized test scores misses much of what an excellent education at PPS is about: arts, sciences, creativity, leadership, social responsibility, grit, and persistence.”

A plan to refurbish the kiosk at the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets has been put on hold at the request of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has been pushing a proposal to upgrade the structure, and another one at Vandeventer Avenue, for the past several months.

While some members of Princeton Council have expressed enthusiasm for the plan, which would have cleaned up the public message board while adding space for municipal maps and transit schedules and some advertising by Princeton businesses, many members of the public and other Council members have said they want the kiosks to remain as they are.

“In talking to the Chamber and the CVB (Convention and Visitors’ Bureau), we had always looked for a consensus of everybody,” Peter Crowley, the Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said last Friday. “We want to redesign it to get people to agree with it.”

The Council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its May 13 meeting, but Mayor Liz Lempert said this week that she has agreed to the Chamber’s request to table the issue. After a split vote at Council’s April 15 meeting on renovation of both kiosks, the Chamber had agreed to take on the kiosk at Witherspoon while leaving the other as it was for the time being. But now, refurbishment of both has been put on hold.

“I think the Chamber is trying to come up with a plan that’s a win-win for everyone,” Ms. Lempert said. “I understand that they want this to be a project that has a stronger consensus than it seemed to have. I think there were some great ideas, especially having some space on the kiosks for municipal information about public transportation and maps to orient people to downtown. And in the interim, we’ll likely explore ways to do that while still keeping the bulk for messaging. That’s what I’d like to see.”

Mr. Crowley said the Chamber wants some more time to make adjustments to the mix of media on the kiosk before asking Council for final approval. “We also want to further examine the costs of maintenance and upkeep and see if we can come up with a plan that reduces the cost to upgrade the kiosk and minimize the expected ongoing maintenance support. Our goal continues to be to develop a public-private partnership that does not have the taxpayers of Princeton responsible for funding the renovation costs. As a regional nonprofit organization, it is very difficult for us to sustain a project like this alone without a way to fund it.”

Making sure taxpayers don’t pay for the upkeep and balancing the need for advertising, which Council member Jenny Crumiller and some members of the public opposed, has been a priority. The kiosks would keep the majority of space for public postings, while adding room for local businesses, non-profits, and the town. While many people agree that the kiosks are messy and need cleaning up, they objected to the idea of extensive advertising.

“I think the advertising question, for me, came down to whether the Chamber was going to be able to find local advertisers,” Ms. Lempert said. “Having an ad up there for The Bent Spoon or Small World is very different than having an ad for something that’s not a Princeton business. The kiosks are not in great shape,” she added. “They weren’t built to last 100 years. At the same time, I would like to find a solution that doesn’t use taxpayer dollars or a lot of staff time. If there’s a way to do it through partnership with the Chamber, local non profits and the local business community, that would be ideal.”

An extensive roadwork improvement project that has been a decade in the planning has been targeted to begin this summer. Moore Street, Park Place, Vandeventer Avenue and Willow Street are the thoroughfares that will be affected by the project, which will include sanitary sewer improvements, storm drainage work, curb ramp upgrades, and road resurfacing, residents and business owners were told at a meeting Monday night in Witherspoon Hall.

Some 40 people turned out to hear details of the project from Princeton’s Municipal Engineer Bob Kiser, Assistant Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton, Sergeant Thomas Murray from the Princeton Police department, and other officials. Mayor Liz Lempert introduced the program. “This is a project long in the making,” she said. “We’re very excited to be at this step. This is the first road project to be undertaken in the new [consolidated] town.”

Mr. Kiser told residents, some of whom have been consulted as the project was in its planning stages, that it will go out for bid within the next two weeks. Once a contractor is engaged, the work should start at the beginning of July and last four months. Mr. Murray, who is Princeton’s Traffic Safety Officer, urged those who may have special needs or special events planned to let him know as soon as possible.

“There will be some disruption,” he said. “But we’ve tried to phase it out. We realize the importance to businesses and residents alike, so we’re trying to limit the construction to one street at a time. We’re taking mail delivery and trash pickup very seriously.”

Ms. Stockton said the construction would take place weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the possibility of some Saturdays as well. Park Place and Vandeventer Avenue are priorities for the initial underground work. The town will try to keep the Park Place municipal parking lot open with one access, and part of the lot will be used as a staging area for the construction, secured by fences.

As for on-street parking, meters will either be pulled or have bags placed over them but will be reopened for residents to use when it is determined to be safe. “Businesses on Nassau Street that need to get deliveries in through the Park Place lot should contact the engineering department, and also let us know about any large functions you have planned,” Ms. Stockton said, adding that roads will be passable at the end of every workday. An effort will be made to find parking for residents whose parking spaces are displaced during the construction.

Among the improvements to be scheduled are replacement of the old sanitary sewer line and water main on Park Place, some sanitary sewer work on Moore Street between Nassau and Franklin streets and all of Vandeventer Avenue. New pavement will be installed on all of Moore Street, Park Place, and Vandeventer Avenue. Cost of the project is estimated at just over $1.5 million.

Electricity will not be affected by the construction, but the water will be turned off at times. Mr. Kiser told residents that notices of water shutoff will be posted on the website, and emailed to those residents who supply their addresses.

Robert Hough, the town’s Director of Infrastructure and Operations, gave details of sanitary sewer improvements that will take place. Arborist Greg O’Neil talked about tree removal and protection.

The project has taken a decade to prepare because of its complexity. “There were lots of challenges, in terms of the sanitary sewer lines that had to be relocated,” Mr. Kiser said the day after the meeting. “We needed to meet with homeowners regarding an easement. Also, extensive survey work had to be done to determine where the new sewer line has to be installed, and to determine drainage improvements that were needed.”

The next meeting will be attended by the contractor selected for the job, and residents will have a chance to ask questions. As for this meeting, “We were thrilled with the turnout,” Mr. Kiser said. “People asked lots of good questions.”

New Kids On The Block

Guarding their brood is one of the two adult bald eagles who relocated to Lake Carnegie when their tree was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. The eaglets grow rapidly and should fledge by the end of July. The quote above comes from the sonnet “When like an eaglet” by Michael Drayton (1563-1631), which ends with the poet’s heart in flight: “Thus from my breast, where it was bred alone,/It after thee is, like an eaglet, flown.” (Photos by Charles R. Plohn)

Eaglet in 2013

May 1, 2013
EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney.(Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney. (Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

Princeton moved one step closer to achieving Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification when the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education passed a Sustainability Resolution at its meeting last Tuesday, April 23.

The resolution provides points toward Princeton’s certification. The municipality is currently certified at the Bronze level.

To date, of the 383 municipalities registered with Sustainable Jersey, 113 are “certified.” Of those, 102 are at the Bronze level; only 11, at the Silver level.

Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, the group that was behind the initiative that brought the resolution to the School Board, hopes that by 2014, Princeton will be certified at the silver level.

“We need to begin a number of programs this year and have them in place by the time we apply for silver level next year,” says Ms. Landis “Sustainable Jersey’s criteria are quite stringent but I am confident that we will make it. We just take it one step at a time and we’ll get there. It’s like putting a quilt together, piece by piece.”

The School Board’s endorsement of the “Principles of Sustainability” resolution was a step in the right direction. It was presented to the Board by members of Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition, a group of parents and other residents seeking to advance sustainability in the district.

The Coalition advocates for sustainable learning experiences for students, for professional development opportunities that have a sustainable focus for teachers and staff, and for energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The resolution, which states that the district will join in the municipality’s efforts, was based on a model developed by Sustainable Jersey and emphasizes the role of the school district in building a community that balances and integrates economic, social and ecological objectives to improve quality of life for its residents.

Stephanie Chorney and Karen Nathan, who co-chair the Green Schools Coalition, presented it to the board. Ms. Chorney is a pediatrician and president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Community Park, where her son is a student. A passionate recycler, she helped organize last year’s first ever recycling effort at Communiversity. She even followed the Public Works truck just to make sure the recycling was taken where it was meant to go.

The day before this year’s Communiversity, Ms. Chorney was in school at Community Park to mark Earth Day, Saturday, April 27. Besides a spring clean up, the event included the installation of a newly built chalkboard that will be used when teachers take their classes outdoors. Ms. Chorney donated the chalkboard, and Community Park parent Tom Pinneo, together with Andy Truesdell, donated the time and materials to build the enclosure. Community Park School garden includes a Colonial Herb Garden at the school with a newly installed bird house built by students at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“I am so happy that the resolution passed,” said Ms. Chorney after last week’s board meeting. “This is the culmination of much effort and it’s great to be a part of something that is teaching our kids how to be healthy and how to care for the environment.”

Under the resolution, the district would support and encourage: student participation in learning experiences dedicated to sustainability; possible examples of such learning experiences could include classroom work, school gardens, health and wellness programs, and field trips; professional development opportunities that will support educators in preparing students for a sustainable future; and sustainable practices related to energy efficiency, waste management, composting, recycling, and procurement and maintenance in Princeton Public Schools’ facilities.

Specific goals in the areas of energy and waste, and health and wellness, include: composting of organic waste; field trips and films to promote clean energy and waste reduction; school gardens and cafeterias as health/science engagement opportunities; tracking of energy efficiency improvements; green food service (e.g. local food, eliminate styrofoam); cost savings from waste reduction and energy efficiency; bicycling and walking campaigns.

“Sustainable Jersey is focused on municipalities and they want to see a connection between the local authority and what is being achieved,” says Ms. Landis, “It’s wonderful to have the support of Mayor Liz Lempert who really wants to see this for Princeton.”

According to Ms. Landis an upcoming agenda item will be to conduct a municipal fleet inventory and track the mileage and use for each vehicle. Later this spring, Sustainable Princeton will launch an energy program for residents. Sustainability includes a social justice component to make sure that municipalities serve their entire populations, so one other concern is for diversity on boards.

For more information, visit:

STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

Ryan Gosling’s platinum locks and Eva Mendes’s sultry, dark tresses in The Place Beyond the Pines, the crime drama recently  on screen at the Princeton Garden Theater, are the work of a hairdresser who counts several local residents among his clientele. Gregory Purcell travels from Manhattan to Another Angle salon on Nassau Street most Sundays and Mondays, the only days he can get away from his work as a stylist for movies, television, and numerous print advertisements and campaigns.

“I really like Princeton,” the 48-year-old Roselle Park native says. “I want it to be fashionable. I think it’s a place that could really, really happen. It just needs that extra push.”

On his website, Mr. Purcell’s client list boasts such names as Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid, and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, His TV credits include Law & Order SVU, Good Morning America, and Boardwalk Empire. The film list runs from Sex and the City 2 to New Year’s Eve. Then there are the fashion shows (Donna Karan, Calvin Klein), and Broadway (Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark).

Yet he is as affable and down to earth, during a telephone interview, as the proverbial guy next door. Talking about his career trajectory, which started after he left art school to work on windows for Barney’s in New York, he recalled, “One of my friends said, ‘You do all the wigs in the windows. Why don’t you do hair?’ I thought about it, and I knew there’d be a lot of girls, and that was my big thing. I thought, why not?”

Mr. Purcell went back to school to learn the trade, and then landed a job at Vidal Sassoon. Next, he worked for Minardi, and later at John Frieda, where he eventually became creative director. “I was the only American there. They were all British,” he says. “They were building an empire all over the world, so I got to travel quite a bit.”

The Frieda salon “is huge in the fashion world,” Mr. Purcell says. He was soon working runway shows in London, Paris, and New York. “People started looking at me for movies,” Mr. Purcell says. “I got Sex in the City 2, Wall Street 2. Now I have The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Happy to share a few anecdotes about the filming, Mr. Purcell laughs as he recalls a night in the woods near Schenectady, New York, where Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta were shooting a fight scene. “Bradley had to hit one of the actors and he hit him too hard and broke the guy’s nose,” he says. “The guy was okay, but Bradley was so upset about it. He kept apologizing and sending him gifts.”

Another memory: “Ryan and his dog would sit with me while I was doing hair. Nobody can sleep, and everyone would end up coming to my apartment. One night, we gave the dog a buzz-cut. Then on one of the TV shows — I think it might have been Letterman, he said he gave the dog the cut! But it was me. There was some really funny stuff. Eva Mendes would come in, dance around. That’s where they [she and Ryan Gosling] became a couple.”

Mr. Purcell started his own product line, called “Attitude,” as his career took off. “It’s all about texture and body,” he says. “It’s not just for women, but also for men. For a woman, hair is the biggest accessory. They have to own it, walk it, be unique. There should never be just one statement, because everyone has a different look.”

Speaking of which, Mr. Purcell is known for his own distinctive style of dressing and adorning himself. “He’s a little bit of a character,” says Patrick Vance, who owns Another Angle salon. “He reminds me a bit of Johnny Depp. And he’s a fabulous hairdresser, really top notch.”

“A lot of people call me a pirate,” Mr. Purcell says, with a chuckle. “But I just let it go.”

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP) will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) with a free public program entitled “Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future.”

Prominent scientists Freeman Dyson, IAS physicist, mathematician and long-time AAAP member; Princeton astrophysicists David Spergel and J. Richard Gott; and Harvard astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger will consider the question: “Is Anyone Else Out There?”

AAAP anticipates an engrossing discussion about the current research in astronomy and exobiology, and the possibilities of finding life elsewhere in the solar system, perhaps within our lifetime. If skies are clear, the evening will conclude with an observing party hosted by members of AAAP on the IAS grounds at 9 p.m.

Author Michael Lemonick; entrepreneur and ISS visitor Greg Olsen; and Rutgers astrophysicist Rachel Somerville, winner of the 2013 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics; will be among the friends of AAAP who will attend the event.

Robert Sanders and a small group of amateur astronomers formed AAAP in 1962 to support like-minded amateurs and promote observational astronomy to the general public. Since 1962, public interest in space has waxed and waned, but the association has always actively promoted astronomy and space exploration. Members have built two observatories, hosted over 400 lectures and 20 star parties, and undertaken thousands of hours of outreach at local schools and at our observatory in Washington Crossing State Park. Also, AAAP works to support events sponsored by the State Museum in Trenton like Super Science Saturday.

Currently, AAAP is planning a fully automated telescope and mount for remote astrophotography under a new dome at their Washington Crossing facility. AAAP’s 90 members include avid observers, armchair investigators, and complete novices. All share a common love of the night sky.

For more information, visit: AAAP web site: For the association’s newsletter, visit:

The Waldorf School of Princeton welcomes spring with its annual May Fair, Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A rain-or-shine, community-wide celebration, May Fair features live music, healthy foods, and imaginative activities for children and their families, all on its 20-acre campus minutes from downtown Princeton. 

The fair includes a marketplace for local artists, crafters, and independent merchants, with opportunities to enter a raffle for unique and handmade items.

In addition to the traditional Maypole dance offered by students of the school, this year’s May Fair features performances by the Mountain View String Band and other local talents, as well as refreshments by local vendors such as Simply Grazin’ and The Bent Spoon.

Activities include making marbleized paper, felted soap, or your very own fairy wand. Enjoy browsing the market for jewelry, woollens, handblown glass, knitted dolls, and more.

The Waldorf School of Princeton is located at 1062 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. Free parking is available onsite as well as along Coppervail Court; school information and tours will be offered throughout the day. For more information, contact Jamie Quirk at (609) 466-1970, x112, e-mail, or visit

Meeting in public session last week, Tuesday, April 22, the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education responded to a recent report from the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) as well as to rankings by U.S. News & World Report in which Princeton High School went from being ranked 196th in the nation and 10th in New Jersey in 2012, to not being ranked at all this year.

The DOE issued new School Performance Reports, formerly called School Report Cards, for public schools across the state in mid-April.

The reports are intended to provide an annual “snapshot” of a school’s overall performance. Their release was delayed while the DOE addressed feedback regarding inaccuracies in the data originally presented to administrators. This year, the new reports include information on college and career readiness, student growth, and a new method for comparing schools.

Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson described the report in some instances as “a mismatch for Princeton” as when, for example, the percentage of students enrolled in post-secondary institutions fails to count students who go to colleges and universities outside the United States. According to a statement from the school district, up to a dozen or more Princeton High School graduates go on to study at top-ranked universities abroad each year.

In addition, the district points out that the State reports only on Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math, science, social studies and English, whereas Princeton High School has students taking as many as eight exams over the course of two years in such areas as foreign languages, art history, and music theory, not included in the metrics.

Board President Tim Quinn went on to describe some of the measures in the State’s new school performance reports as “incomplete, confusing, and do not accurately reflect our school and community culture. In short, they don’t adequately measure many of the great things happening in our schools.”

He invited State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf to visit Princeton and experience its culture of continuous improvement “and to learn that we are building on strength, not lagging behind.”

“A lot happens in our schools every day that doesn’t fit into this discussion about data and metrics,” said Mr. Quinn in a telephone interview Friday, April 26: “But not everything gets reported. In general, there is a lot that is not covered or factored into State measurements.”

US News & World Report

In this year’s U.S. News & World Report, Princeton High School, formerly a gold medalist, failed to rank at all in the list of best high schools for 2013.

In contrast, Montgomery High School, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South were gold medalists, ranked in the top 2 percent in the nation according to the publication’s evaluation of almost 22,000 public high schools in 49 states plus the District of Columbia (Nebraska was excluded due to lack of data). Gold medal status was earned by 54 schools in New Jersey.

The magazine compares each state’s high school proficiency tests in reading and math. Schools are then judged on “college readiness,” according to the number of high school seniors taking and passing at least one AP exam.

Princeton Public Schools responded to the U.S. News & World Report rankings in a press release explaining that: “Rankings are subject to fluctuations from year to year, particularly as they are affected by even slight demographic and other data shifts that are common in open-enrollment public schools.”

According to the district, “If the 2013 rankings were limited to standardized test performance, Princeton would rank eighth in the state and 162nd nationwide, up from last year’s ratings.”

Over the past few years, Princeton High School has seen a steady rise in academic achievement and college readiness, based on criteria such as standardized test and AP scores. As determined by state assessment, proficiency rates rose from 96.4 percent in Language Arts in 2009-2010 to 97.8 percent two years later, in 2011-12. In mathematics there was an almost six-point increase from 90.2 percent in 2009-2010 to 96 percent last year, in 2011-12.

“The Board is always happy when our schools rank high in state and national lists and we’re disappointed when we don’t appear,” commented Mr. Quinn by email, Monday, April 29. “That said, the Board recognizes the reality of these ratings: that razor-thin margins on the scores of relatively small groups of our students on a single standardized test can mean the difference between a high ranking and not appearing on a list.”

“Several of us on the Board are the parents of Princeton High School students,” said Mr. Quinn, whose son is a sophomore there. “Every day we see PHS’s commitment to excellence reflected in the lives of our children. We know they are learning in ways that aren’t measured by the data points that go into these rankings. This doesn’t mean we are self-satisfied and that our district is resting on its laurels; it does mean that the Board is confident that every student is receiving meaningful instruction every day in all of our schools.”

Attendance Issue

In response to a High School Grading and Attendance Report from the DOE’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance, which came with a corrective action plan for the district, Mr. Quinn spoke of “some omissions, misleading language, and incomplete accounts” that “resulted in blaring headlines that missed the real headline: that after an exhaustive examination of records, the allegations made by an anonymous complainant could not be substantiated.”

The DOE report, released April 8, followed an anonymous tip alleging that PHS seniors were being allowed to graduate even though their absences would make them ineligible to do so.

After examining student attendance records, transcripts, and report cards for graduating classes from 2009 to 2012, the DOE concluded that it was “unable to determine that all graduates at PHS during that period met attendance requirements and found a “significant number of graduates with more than 18 absences.”

“[The] reality of Princeton Public Schools stands in contrast to some aspects of recent state reports, which could lead the casual observer to conclude that ours is a mediocre district that graduates students who don’t meet all requirements,” said Mr. Quinn in his report to the Board. “This is simply not true.”

The Board voted to implement the state’s corrective plan, however. “As Board President, I get calls and emails every day from parents and others with a stake in the education of our children, and yet I received not one call about this issue,” said Mr. Quinn. “Draw whatever conclusion you will from that fact.”

“Nonetheless, we take the findings seriously and we are always interested in improving our processes. Under Judy Wilson’s tenure there has been a culture of continuous improvement and we are always happy to implement valuable ideas.”

Superintendent Survey

“Next to classroom teachers, the most important person in our schools is the superintendent,” said Mr. Quinn, who announced at last week’s meeting that, in its search for a new superintendent of Schools to replace Ms. Wilson who steps down December 31, the Board of Education is reaching out to the community to help identify “the characteristics we will be seeking in our new superintendent.”

In addition to retaining the services of consultants Hazard, Young, and Attea for the search, the Board invites the public to take a brief survey online (before May 23) and to attend two public forums to be held in the conference room in school district’s administrative office building at 25 Valley Road, Tuesday, May 21, from 4 to 5:20 p.m. and Wednesday, May 22 from 7 to 9 p.m.

In this way the Board hopes to refine the candidate search. “In a town that values strong public education, few decisions are as important as the selection of a superintendent of schools,” said Mr. Quinn. “As a community we all benefit from having strong public schools whether we have children attending or not, property values reflect schools and, of course, a portion of local property taxes go to schools, so it’s an issue for everyone,” he said.

While ultimate responsibility for naming a new superintendent rests with the Board, Mr. Quinn said “we believe that everyone’s voice should be heard.”

A Memorandum from Mr. Quinn addressed to parents, staff and members of the Princeton Public Schools community is available on the Princeton Public School’s website which can be accessed through

Ever since it was announced last February, area residents have been voicing concerns about the proposed expansion of the Williams Transco gas pipeline, which would affect more than 30 properties along the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. Among the most recent complaints was a reaction to the news that the Williams company did not want the town to release maps for the project. Town attorney Ed Schmeirer said at the April 22 meeting of Princeton Council that the company did not want the documents made available to the public because of security concerns.

But following Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests from four individuals, the first of whom had to be responded to by last Friday, the town decided to release the documents. “We considered Williams’s position and took a look at the OPRA law, and we concluded that the materials filed were public documents and were to be released,” Mr. Schmeirer said Monday. “We told Williams we had to respond to the first of the OPRA requests, and we have received no objection from them. The document was released last Friday.”

The maps are now available for inspection in the Engineering Department on the second floor of the Municipal Building between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. The documents can be photographed or copied, and there is a charge for copying them.

Meanwhile, a citizens group has formed to voice concerns about the proposed expansion project. Calling themselves the Princeton Ridge Coalition, the group of homeowners and other area residents want to make the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) aware of the impact the project, as proposed by the Williams company, would have not only on the ridge, but on the extended region.

“This isn’t just any forest we’re talking about,” said Ridgeview Road resident Barbara Blumenthal, a member of the group, on Monday, the morning after its first meeting. Ms. Blumenthal, who said 12 people attended the meeting and the organization has an e-mail list of 70, was referring to the probability that the project would involve cutting down many trees. “This is a particular forest that will not recover if more trees are removed.”

Saving the trees is one among several concerns that the citizens’ group, along with environmental organizations such as Food and Water Watch and the local branch of the Sierra Club, have expressed since Williams announced its plan last February. The project could affect migratory birds, endangered species, water pollution, and other situations, residents have said.

The section of the pipeline known as the Skillman Loop is part of Williams’ Transco Leidy Southeast Expansion Project, which would affect Princeton, Montgomery, Branchburg, and Readington.

The Williams company is still in the pre-filing stage, and plans to present its proposal to FERC this fall. An information session requested by the municipality of Princeton was held by Williams in February. The company has also held two open house events. The Sierra Club sponsored a forum on the plan at Princeton University last month.

Williams’ Transco plan was on the agenda last week at a meeting of the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), which was attended by several homeowners as well as representatives of environmental groups. “The pre-filing stage is a very decisive time,” Terry Stimpfel, who chairs the central New Jersey group of the Sierra Club, told the PEC. She urged the commission to request that an Environmental Impact Statement, rather than the less conclusive Environmental Assessment, be required of Williams.

“Their mission is to facilitate licensing of the pipeline, not to protect the environment,” she said of FERC. Ms. Stimpfel also encouraged the PEC to request that at least one scoping meeting be held in Princeton and Montgomery.

Karina Wilkinson, organizer with Food and Water Watch, recommended to the Commission that they officially intervene, which they would be required to do while the project is still in the pre-filing stage. Intervenors are individuals who obtain the court’s permission to enter into a lawsuit which has already started between other parties and to file a complaint stating the basis for a claim in the existing suit.

The PEC passed a resolution at the meeting stating to FERC that they request a scoping hearing to be done locally, and that an Environmental Impact Study, rather than an Environmental Assessment, be conducted. The Commission will meet once more, taking into consideration a resolution drafted by the citizens’ group, before sending it to the Council and also directly to FERC.

“What we’re trying to do is make the ‘whereas’ statements in the resolution more topical to Princeton, to talk about the impact on the ridge,” said PEC chairman Matt Wasserman this week. “Also, we not only want a scoping hearing to be local, we want it in Princeton and we want more than one.”

The PEC and the Princeton Ridge Coalition are on the same page, Ms. Blumenthal said. “The PEC was every bit as appalled as we are. They understand better than anybody else the real consequences of this,” she said. “It’s not just the loss of the forest, but what happens to the municipal infrastructure with storm runoff, storm sewers, and damage to roads. The town functions because there is this capacity for water absorption on the ridge. Without that, there are ongoing consequences that would be very expensive to fix.”

The public will have a chance to examine plans that AvalonBay has revised for the former Princeton Hospital site at a date that is yet to be determined. The developer, whose initial plan for the Witherspoon Street property was turned down by Princeton’s Planning Board last December, filed suit against the town of Princeton and the Planning Board but has since entered into a consent agreement with the town to try and find a compromise outside of court.

“We have gotten AvalonBay to agree to the public information session so that the plan can be seen and reviewed by the public prior to it being unveiled at the Planning Board,” Princeton Administrator Bob Bruschi wrote Tuesday in an email. “It needs to be stressed that it is not a hearing. All of the formal hearings will be at the Planning Board meetings.”

AvalonBay’s proposal to tear down the existing hospital building and replace it with 280 rental units, 56 of which would be designated affordable, was rejected by the Planning Board based on design standards. The complex, which many called “monolithic,” was determined to be not in keeping with the surrounding neighborhood. Litigation on the design standards is currently on hold, but a hearing regarding jurisdictional issues is scheduled for May 15. It has been argued that the  Zoning Board of Adjustment, rather than the Planning Board, should be ruling on the AvalonBay proposal.

Two consent orders were submitted to the court, one signed by AvalonBay and the municipality, and the other signed by Rob Simon, who is the attorney for the group Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN). Members of PCSN and other town residents have complained that the agreement with AvalonBay gives unfair advantage to the developer (see this week’s Mailbox).

According to the consent agreement, AvalonBay has until May 15 to submit a new application. Princeton’s engineer would then have another 15 days to determine if the application is complete. The staff would have 15 days to review the application, and the Planning Board would get 75 days for review. The Board would have to rule on the new application by August 15.


Downtown Princeton was the big top as Stone Soup Circus performed near Fitzrandolph Gate, the Nassau Street entrance to the Princeton University campus. The stilt walker is Iona Binnie. Founded in Princeton in 2008, Princeton’s Community Circus is gearing up for a trip to the American Youth Circus in August 2013. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

April 24, 2013

RussianBallerinaWhen Simon Morrison heard that ballerina Svetlana Lunkina had left Russia’s famed Bolshoi Ballet and was living outside of Toronto, he knew he wanted to figure out a way to bring her to Princeton. Mr. Morrison, a professor of music at Princeton University and a well-known authority on 20th century Russian and Soviet music and dance, approached Michael Cadden, who heads the University’s Lewis Center of the Arts.

“I talked with him and he immediately offered funding to bring her here,” Mr. Morrison said last week. “I thought it would be great to have the University community talk with her about her career. And we saw right away that she was a natural pedagogue.”

Ms. Lunkina agreed to travel to Princeton, staying here four days and teaching at both the University and the Princeton Ballet School. What was off limits, though, was any discussion of the bizarre situation at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. It was there that, last January, the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin was attacked by someone who threw acid in his face.

Ms. Lunkina, whose husband Vladislav Moskalev is a producer of cultural events, left Russia with her family after receiving death threats. Whether there is a connection between those threats and the acid-throwing incident is something Ms. Lunkina was not willing to talk about, so it remained off the table both at the University and the ballet school.

“We stayed away from the topic,” said Douglas Martin, artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet company, which is affiliated with the Princeton Ballet School. “We didn’t want to burden her with asking about details.”

While students at both schools steered clear of the Bolshoi drama, there was plenty to observe, discuss, and learn. “We had a public discussion about her career,” said Mr. Morrison of Ms. Lunkina’s time at the University. “She taught Tina Fehlandt’s advanced dance seminar, and she was just a wonderful presence.”

When he spoke to Town Topics last Friday afternoon, Mr. Morrison recalled having breakfast in New York City with Ms. Lunkina that same morning. The night before, he had attended a gala performance to benefit the Youth America Grand Prix organization at Lincoln Center, and Ms. Lunkina had been among the stellar group of performers. “She’s the last Romantic ballerina,” he said of her solo from La Bayadere. “It’s a kind of dancing that’s really disappearing.”

Mr. Martin was enthusiastic about Ms. Lunkina’s visit to the Princeton Ballet School, where she not only taught but also took class with the dancers of American Repertory Ballet. Mr. Martin taught the class.

“This is someone who was considered the number one ballerina at the Bolshoi,” he said. “She lives an hour and a half outside of Toronto and she has small children, so it hasn’t been easy for her to get to class every day. Life is not normal for her right now. But here she was in class with us, this tiny, thin ballerina with all of the attributes Russian ballerinas have. She jumped at least as high, if not higher, than any of the men in class. Our mouths just dropped open.

“She was like a kid in a candy store, doing every combination [of movements] six or seven times. She wasn’t showing off, she was just thrilled to be working. She is special. She has the wonderment still left in her, a desire to get better. And it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Mr. Morrison has been working on an article about the unrest at the Bolshoi Theater for some time and recently traveled to Moscow to do research. He has talked extensively with Ms. Lunkina, who after some persuasion agreed to give him exclusive interviews. Her husband has provided him with documents. The Bolshoi’s 200-member ballet company is only one arm of a huge operation, where there have been allegations of corruption in recent years over artistic policies, the $1 billion-plus renovation of the historic theater, and the way tickets are sold, among other things.

“One thing I have learned about this is that once you pull the lid off the story, there are so many layers,” Mr. Morrison said. “People have often said that the Bolshoi Theatre is a reflection of Russia. But it’s not. It’s a reflection of the absence of control of the governing of the theater, and of its history.”

For Mr. Martin’s students and ballet company members, having Ms. Lunkina in the studio for two days provided a rare opportunity. “They had exposure to a world class ballerina,” he said. “We have a lot of excellent dancers who have come through Princeton and either work or retire here, like Kyra Nichols from New York City Ballet and Kathleen Moore from American Ballet Theatre. But dancing is a very ephemeral thing. The students we have now don’t remember those dancers’ careers. But here is a 33-year-old ballerina from the Bolshoi, a huge celebrity. It’s so rare to have the chance to meet someone like this, go to dinner with them, talk to them. And in class, she imparted things that gave them a bit of a different perspective.”

At 33, Ms. Lunkina should be at the peak of her dancing career. She is teaching at a studio in Toronto, Mr. Morrison said, and she makes guest appearances such as the one in New York last week. But her future is uncertain.

“You’d think that ballet companies would jump at the opportunity to hire her, but it’s not that easy,” Mr. Martin said. “A lot of companies are set in who they have and what they present, including the National Ballet of Canada, which would be closest to her.”

In the meantime, he would love to have her return to Princeton. “We’re hopeful that as long as she stays in this part of the world, we can get her back,” Mr. Martin said. “That would be wonderful.”

BJARTUR ARRIVES IN TIME: Henry and Robert Landau, owners of the family run clothing store specializing in fine woollens at 102 Nassau Street, unveiled the new store mascot on Monday, April 22, at 11 a.m., right in time for Bjartur to take pride of place at this year’s Communiversity. That’s Henry ushering Bjartur from his traveling box as Robert speaks to the crowd. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

BJARTUR ARRIVES IN TIME: Henry and Robert Landau, owners of the family run clothing store specializing in fine woollens at 102 Nassau Street, unveiled the new store mascot on Monday, April 22, at 11 a.m., right in time for Bjartur to take pride of place at this year’s Communiversity. That’s Henry ushering Bjartur from his traveling box as Robert speaks to the crowd.
(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Communiversity, a collaboration between Princeton University and the Arts Council of Princeton, will turn the center of town into an outdoor music festival and farmers market combined this Sunday, April 28, between 1 and 6 p.m.

The 42nd annual Town-Gown event is expected to draw more than 40,000 visitors to Nassau and Witherspoon Streets, the green in Palmer Square, and the University campus. Over 200 booths will showcase original art and contemporary crafts, unique merchandise, food, and community groups. Five stages will host entertainment for all ages.

Performance highlights include central Jersey area artists: Danielia Cotton, Some Like it Hot Club, Luke Elliot, Blue Jersey Band, Dave Grossman, Rainbow Fresh, The Blue Meanies and Stephanie White and the Philth Harmonics, among others.

Dance performances and demonstrations include The ARB/Princeton Ballet School, Bollywood dancing from Aaja Nachale, and Flamenco dancing from Lisa Botalico and Fiesta Flamenco.

For kids, Stone Soup Circus will begin parading at 1:15 p.m. from Nassau Hall to the Palmer Square Stage, where family-friendly entertainment continues through the afternoon. There will be art-themed games, projects, and workshops at The Arts Council where “Nana’s-Make-A-Mess” presents an assortment of materials for hands-on creativity. The University will also host kid-friendly attractions such as sports clinics, a pie-throwing contest, a bounce house, and dunk tank.

New this year is The Arts Council’s “Paint Out Princeton” project showcasing local painters in action. Until 4 p.m., local artists will be working at their easels painting scenes that capture the spirit of the day on canvas. The work will then be displayed at a Wet Work Exhibition and Sale in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Today’s Town and Gown celebration began in 1971 when the Arts Council of Princeton held “The Art People’s Party” with musicians, artists, and crafters. In 1974, the annual party was held on the grounds surrounding McCarter Theater and was dedicated in honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday. In 1976, when it was held on the Washington Road Bridge, festival attendees arrived by boat.

Students from Princeton University joined the party in 1985 and the name “Communiversity” was coined. Over the years -highlights have included a giant banana split fundraiser in 1987 and a “Communiversity Brew” from Triumph Brewing Company in 2001, when the closing concert featured Willie Nelson.


The tragic bombings in Boston have brought the issue of security to the minds of local officials and there will be an increased police presence this year.

Princeton Administrator Robert W. Bruschi said that in advance of the event there have been meetings with all of the emergency planning groups from fire to first aid as well as public works to discuss protocols and refresh everyone on how to handle different situations ranging from a lost child to imminent danger.

While Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter, who is effectively covering the duties of Police Chief in the absence of David Dudeck, was reluctant to give specific details in terms of police strategy and numbers of law enforcement officers, he was able to comment on an increase in “officers committed to foot patrol inside the event as well as regular vehicle patrol.” He said: “We will have our officers in highly visible traffic vests for ease of identification for the public.”

The Department of Public Safety at Princeton University will be working closely with local police. Along with the Mercer County Sheriff’s department, they have agreed to supply resources and help with staffing.

“As we do every year, we are taking prudent measures to ensure safety,” said Mr. Sutter. As for advice to the public, he asks for vigilance from all. “People should report any suspicious activity to officers in the area and follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for the latest information and alerts,” he said.

Landau’s New Mascot

Members of the press and patrons of Landau on Nassau Street turned out to welcome Lindi’s successor to Princeton on Monday. Princeton residents will recall Lindi as the Icelandic ram which stood outside the store as its mascot for some 35 years until it disappeared last July.

The theft was widely reported and the owners had hoped that Lindi, a favorite with Princeton children and visitors, would be returned as had happened once before when two students from The College of New Jersey had held the 150 pound Lindi for ransom. That was 16 years ago and Lindi was safely returned.

Last year’s theft is still unsolved and Lindi has never been seen.

Landau’s owners debated whether to find a replacement. But so many people asked about Lindi, that they felt a new mascot was desirable.

Also from Iceland, Bjartur (pronounced byar-tur) is much lighter and fluffier than his predecessor. His name means pale or fair and he will most likely be kept indoors for safety’s sake. It’s not yet been decided where exactly. Like his predecessor, Bjartur is mounted on a wheeled platform so that he can be moved around easily.

FreeB Shuttle

The town’s FreeB Shuttle will run a special route for Communiversity, allowing people to travel from places where there is ample parking such as the Princeton Shopping Center, the Municipal Complex at Valley Road and Witherspoon Street, Elm Court, and Community Park North, to festival entrance points at the corner of Wiggins and Witherspoon Streets (see map for full details).

There is also the option of parking on local streets (free on Sunday) and in parking garages on Chambers, Hulfish, and Spring Streets. Additional parking can be found in Princeton University Lots 10 and 13, located off Washington Road on William Street.

For more information, visit: or call (609) 924-8777.

A progress report on the town’s first proposed budget since consolidation was delivered at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday evening. Scott Sillars of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee told the Council that more work needs to be done on the budget before a public hearing on May 28, but he wanted to show what has been done so far. The Council will discuss the budget again at its next meeting on May 13.

There has been some confusion about just how much savings the new budget provides. Originally, local officials quoted a figure of $3 million, but $2.3 million of that is not actual savings. The difference has to do with duplication in shared services by the former Borough and Township. The new budget reflects savings of $750,000 from consolidation, in salaries and benefits, Mr. Sillars said. 

These savings more than offset the expanded trash service, he reported. Though surpluses, which need further review, appear in the balance, property tax bills will increase due to school and county portions of the budget. “People’s taxes are going to go up even though we are doing a good job at holding the line slightly,” he said.

In other business, the Council voted to introduce an ordinance that would allow the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce to lease and renovate the kiosk on the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets. The kiosk, one of two on Nassau Street, has traditionally been a place for public postings. The Chamber wants to renovate both kiosks and provide space for advertising by local businesses as well as municipal information, but would keep the majority of the space on the kiosks for public notices, said Chamber president and CEO Peter Crowley.

“It will remain a place where anyone may speak on equal terms, on any matter, free of charge, free of content control,” he assured Council and members of the public who expressed concern. “The Chamber has no plans to monitor or censor what community groups post, except to take down past and expired notices after the advertised events take place.”

The lease, which is for five years, is to be finalized at the May 13 Council meeting.

The first hour of Monday’s meeting was dominated by comments from the public about AvalonBay’s proposed development of the former Princeton Hospital site, and the natural gas pipeline that the Williams Company wants to build through 1.2 miles of Princeton and 5.3 miles of Montgomery. Sentiments were overwhelmingly negative about the status of both projects, and there was significant concern expressed about a lack of transparency.

“It is going to rip through our neighborhood, and it is very concerning that we can’t get copies of the presentation,” said Candace Preston of the proposed pipeline. Williams representatives have said they won’t release all of the documents about the project because it would compromise security. Princeton municipal engineer Bob Kiser has requested a legal opinion on the issue.

“What happens if we lose the forest?” Ms. Preston continued, adding that a plan is needed that would involve a water specialist. Resident Kip Cherry said the municipality should be thinking about trees, safety, and a full Economic Impact Statement in their consideration of the project, which Williams has yet to formally file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Concerned residents said they are forming a citizens’ group to focus on the impact of the pipeline, should it be approved.

Some members of the public expressed concern about the Planning Board’s consent agreement with AvalonBay that permits the developer to submit a revised design for a 280-unit rental complex at the former hospital site on Witherspoon Street. The Board approved the agreement early this month. Mayor Liz Lempert clarified that the consent order is not a settlement. “What it does do is establish a process whereby AvalonBay could submit a plan back to the Planning Board. We’re trying to get them to hold a public meeting,” she said. “We are in litigation, and this is the most transparent we can be.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and and International Affairs at Princeton University and former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has been selected to serve as the next president of the New America Foundation.

She will start her new position on September 1 and transfer to emerita status at the University. 

Ms. Slaughter was dean of the Wilson School from 2002 to 2009. From 2009 to 2011, she served as director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State, becoming the first woman to hold that position. As author of the July/August 2012 cover story for The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Ms. Slaughter advanced a national conversation about the struggles women face when balancing careers and family. 

She is currently a member of the board of the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States. 

A 1980 Princeton alumna, Ms. Slaughter is credited with rebuilding the international relations faculty during her time as dean. She also increased the size of the faculty — strengthening traditional research capacity and teaching expertise in public and international affairs while expanding to other disciplines relevant to public policy, including history and the sciences.

In addition, Slaughter expanded the school’s one-year master in public policy degree program, to include specialized concentrations for medical doctors, lawyers and Ph.D. scientists, and helped create a joint Ph.D. program in social policy. She was instrumental in creating and launching Princeton’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative, a scholarship program that encourages the nation’s most talented students to pursue careers in the U.S. government, especially in the area of international relations.

She oversaw the creation of new research centers and programs while serving as dean, including the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance; the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program; the Policy Research Institute for the Region; and Institutions for Fragile States.

Ms. Slaughter has written or edited six books, including A New World Order (2004) and The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith With Our Values in a Dangerous World (2007), and more than 100 scholarly articles. She received her M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees in international relations from the University of Oxford in 1982 and 1992, respectively, and her law degree from Harvard Law School in 1985.